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Myth, Magic and Mayhem abound and today we welcome Fae, who shares some of her thoughts with us.
Name: Oh, I wish I could remember my name! I wish I could remember anything. I feel so… lost, knowing nothing of who I am, where I come from. Yesterday, when I was pretending to be brave, I gave myself a name. It feels right, but it might not be right. How could it, when I remember nothing? But… I’m Fae (she raises her chin) and I’m going to pretend to be brave again. I have to.
Which book/world do you live in? I seem to be trapped in a castle. It’s very beautiful, with marble halls and tall windows looking onto flowering summer gardens. But it’s utterly deserted; I’m all alone and locked in! None of the doors to the outside seem to even have functioning latches and hinges. And when I tried to break a window with a paperweight, it bounced off!
Tell us about yourself: (Name, race/species, etc.) When I look in the mirror, I look human. But something tells me I might not be. Oh, I’m not anything truly strange, like the creatures in fairy tales or the monsters in myths and legends. Yesterday I thought I might be the granddaughter of a goddess, but that’s not it either. I’m trying to figure it out, because I think that if I can only remember something, that’s the key to escaping this castle and finding… home? Oh, I wish I could go home, wherever home is! (She raises her chin again.) But I’ll do it. I’ll figure it out. I won’t give up.
I’m an adventurer – why should I recruit you to accompany me? Adventurers… (Her tone is musing.) I always thought they were ne’er-do-wells, the black sheep of their families. But sometimes they’re soldiers of fortune, aren’t they? I wonder if a soldier—a warrior—could help me? I don’t think so. This castle, this situation, is a puzzle, not a battle. And I’m going to solve it. (She sighs.) But I wish someone were here. Besides me. It’s so lonely. I miss my friends, even though I can’t remember who they are. Oh, I hate this!
Tell us about your companions? How do they see you? I know I had friends. Maybe a band of girls my age? How old am I anyway? Maybe fourteen? Maybe sixteen? I don’t know! But it’s something like that. I think we spent a lot of time out of doors, rambling in the woods, running races, practising archery? Someone else was the fastest in the foot races, but I was the best with bow and arrow! Oh, I miss the outdoors! I hate this castle and being pent inside from dawn to dusk!
What’s your most heroic exploit to date? Ha! I don’t think I’ve had time to be a hero! I’m too young. But, guess what? I think I’m being a hero now. Something has happened to trap me in this place, and I don’t think I’m the only one affected, even though I’m the only one here. Somewhere that I can’t see, that I don’t even know about, there are people I love in trouble. If I can just solve this puzzle… I’ll get out and go help them! Whoever did this to me (she raises that chin again) is going to be sorry!
What’s your greatest failure? I think I failed at something important. Something really important. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t. I think I betrayed… not someone else. Never someone else. But I might have betrayed myself. I might have… consented to something? To a punishment? When I should have fought it tooth and nail? Oh, I wish I could remember! This is horrid!
Where do you think you’ll be in a decade? I’ll be out of here! I’ll escape! I’ll rescue my cousins! Oh! I remembered something! I have cousins! (She does a little dance step of jubilation.) One of them… Athena? Athena was studying military history. Oh! I have an uncle! Uncle Leander was.. a blacksmith? No, that’s not right. He knew smithing. And he was good at it! But he was so much more. I can’t remember. (She grits her teeth.) I can’t remember, but I am remembering! And I’m going to remember more!
Do you have a great love? (This could be a person/trait/item) I loved someone. I know I did. Besides my friends. And my cousins. And my uncle. I almost think I loved… Was she my aunt? I saw her so clearly in my mind’s eye yesterday. She was pale and stern and garbed in a sweeping black velvet gown as she admonished me to never open that quaint pointed door in the corner while she was gone. Did I open it? Is that why I’m here? Or did I fail to open it? And is that failure why I’m here? I wonder if that door… might be somewhere in this castle? (Her eyes light.) I’m going to go look!
Fae is the heroine of the novel Caught in Amber by J.M. Ney-Grimm
Amazon US: Caught-Amber-J-M-Ney-Grimm Amazon
Amazon UK: Caught-Amber-J-M-Ney-Grimm Amazon UK
Apple: Caught in Amber – I tunes
Kobo: Caught in Amber – Kobo
Barnes & Noble: Caught in Amber – Nook
Smashwords: Caught in Amber – Smashwords
Universal Books2Read: Caught in Amber – Books2Read
Bundle Rabbit Caught in Amber – Bundle Rabbit
Author name: Ron Vitale
*Please tell us about your publications.
What first prompted you to publish your work? My two kids and I were goofing off in a swimming pool, playing a game. I was pretending to chase after them, and instead of being a werewolf, I pretended to be a werewhale. My daughter laughed as I chased her and she made this funny whale sound and we all had a great time that day in the pool. With Sharknado being popular at the time, I thought: What if I created a werewhale creature and then answered the question: What happened after Herman Melville’s Moby Dick? Once I had that idea, then it was an easy jump telling the story of Captain Ahab’s daughter.
What have you found the most challenging part of the process? When I was younger, I always thought that the writing would be the most challenging part of publishing a book. I was wrong. The hardest part for me is marketing the book. I’ve had to learn email marketing, Facebook advertising, Amazon ads, content marketing, create production and editorial calendars–basically I’ve had to devise, and then implement, a strategy that will provide a positive ROI. That’s both freeing and frightening at the same time. On one hand, I need to learn new skills and then experiment with what I’ve learned. Marketing isn’t as simple as buying a Facebook ad and a few promotional ads. Instead, I’ve needed to do A/B testing on Facebook ads. Once I refine the lookalike audience for the Facebook ad, I need to test different copy to see what actually performs, learn from that and keep refining over time. I enjoy both the creative aspects of writing and interacting with my readers, but I also really enjoy learning why the marketing is or isn’t converting. It’s fascinating to see the numbers come in and be surprised on what you thought would get a lot of clicks turns out to be a not so great. The only issue with all of this is time. There are only so many hours in the day. Between working full-time, raising a family, writing and marketing my books, well, things get a bit hectic at times. I guess that’s why I decided to write a book about what I learned. I really wanted to give back to my fellow authors because I’ve been helped so much along the way.
Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’? I used to be a 100% pantser. But when I was writing book 3 of my Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries series, I had to throw out a third of the book because it just didn’t work. I wasted a lot of time writing that and then having to redo that whole section. Over time, I’ve slowly moved over to the plotter side. I wouldn’t say that I’m all the way there, but I’m about 70%. I now have a Google sheet that tracks what happened (in one sentence and which characters are in that scene) by scene and I try to forecast out the future. I’m not going to lie–sometimes I plan ahead, other times I don’t. But I do see the value in having the overall story arc planned out in my head. Once I know what the main conflict is, where the characters start, where they’re headed and what I want to have happen, then I can fill in the rest as I write.
What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Keep writing. I wrote my first novel at 16 back in the ‘80s and rewrote and rewrote it. I tried to get that book traditionally published and failed more times than I can remember. I then started to write short stories, but I didn’t write my second novel (a sequel to the first) until the late ‘90s. It wasn’t until 2008 that I decided to write the Cinderella Secret Witch Diaries series and start something new. I didn’t know that I had more than one series in me. Back when I first started, I put all my eggs in that one novel. I thought it was the best thing and copies would fly off the shelves. What I didn’t know how to come to terms with was to keep writing and to nurture the creative part of me. I had created a fantasy world in that first book and I didn’t know what to do with another book. I wanted to create a whole series but if I couldn’t get book one published, why would I start book two? The more I write, the better I become at my craft. I’ve written novels that I love, but over time, I’ve realized that I’ve become a stronger writer by getting my hands dirty and learning my craft. I may not be a blacksmith and have a sword to show that I’ve forged, but I have words in a book. My journey as a writer started when I was 9 years old and will continue until I can no longer write. The most important thing is to keep writing. Dream, take those dreams and forge them into a story or novel, and then do the hard work of learning the craft. For me, that means writing and reading. Never give up!
If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. Although most of my books are fantasy, I also love science fiction. If I could have dinner with any literary character (and this might be a bit of a cheat), it would be with the Doctor from Doctor Who. Since I read a lot of the Doctor Who novels back in the early ‘80s, I would love to sit down and talk about history and time with him (well, now her). The fact that the Doctor has regenerated more than a dozen times into different people in the 50+ history of the BBC TV show gives me an enormous amount of topics to talk about. Now that the latest incarnation of the doctor will be a woman, I’d be curious to talk with her about how the world now sees her that she’s switched genders. It’s not every day that you could talk with someone who’s lived so long, as different sexes and been all through time and space.
What are your views on authors offering free books? Do you believe, as some do, that it demeans an author and his or her work? I learned a lot when I published Lost (book 1 in my Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries series). I have given more than 10,000 ebook copies of that book away since 2011. Do I regret it? Partly. What I didn’t understand is that I need to have a marketing strategy tied to giving my book away. In the early days when the KDP free days still meant something, I was so happy that people were downloading my book, but I did not stop and think about why I was doing that and what it meant. For example, I didn’t have an email list and autoresponders setup, but now I do. I learned a lot over the last six years and now I only use a freebie if it’s part of my marketing strategy. I will say this though: Getting thousands of people on your mailing list might be great, but several of those readers reached out to me by responding to my autoresponders and let me know that they couldn’t read my book and leave a review because they had hundreds of free books in front of mine yet to read. Thousands of authors are all giving their books away and there’s only so many that people can read. I now use Instafreebie for much more targeted reasons.
What are your views on authors commenting on reviews? I don’t do it. I’ve had reviews saying that my book was the greatest and another that said something like “this book is the worst I ever read.” The reader went on to say that she only read a few paragraphs, but looking at reviews can be a time suck (and a big block to one’s ego). What I now do is set up an autoresponder email and over time new people on my mailing list are asked to leave a review. Once in a blue moon, I happen to notice that the reviews went up. I’d rather spend my time writing and marketing than looking at my reviews.
How do you deal with bad reviews? Mostly I ignore them. If there’s something legitimate in the review, I’ll take the constructive feedback, but I often find that people get a free copy of the book, don’t like what they read and then complain about it–without having read the entire book. I’ve found that that’s part of the balance in giving your ebook away for free. It’s a crapshoot. I would much rather target readers through a lookalike Facebook ad and drive them to my mailing list to get the free book and then through an autoresponder ask them to leave a review. I learned the hard way: A few years ago a friend passed on to me a mom’s book club and I gave them all my book. What I didn’t know is that they were not the demographic at all for a fantasy book. They hated the book and a few of them left reviews on Amazon. You live and you learn!
Sort these into order of importance:
How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? It all depends on the book. I’ve had to research Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in the winter and how disastrous the weather was with tens of thousands of his soldiers dying. In another book, I had to figure out how a space elevator worked for a science fiction book I was writing and in my most recent book, Ahab’s Daughter, I had to research Kanaloa, Dark Squid God from Polynesian mythology. I find the research fun, but I also need to make certain that I don’t do too much because I need to get to writing.
How influential is storytelling to our culture? I remember in my undergraduate English classes our professor taught us about the village scop–a man who would tell the oral history of the town. Now our storytelling has taken a dramatic turn. We’re telling stories in video games and through snaps on Snapchat. Storytelling is still immensely important, but the mediums that we use have evolved with augmented reality and the internet.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Dean Wesley Smith wrote a book on Heinlein’s Five Rules that really helped me overcome my fear of rejection and perfectionism. They’re simple, easy to follow but somewhat controversial:
Robert Heinlein’s five rules are:
I find rule #3 to be really hard.
What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? I think the worst piece of advice is that I needed an agent. I spend a lot of wasted time trying to get an agent and had some brushes with the traditional publishing world back in the ‘90s but that left me feeling powerless. My book went into a black hole and I had no idea what the agent was really doing for me. Now with being an indie author, I make decisions on my business and I like having that freedom.
If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? Well, I would have to say an elf. When I used to play Dungeons & Dragons (yes, I’m very geeky) as a kid, I always wanted to be an elf. But to be specific, I like Tolkien’s high elves. A close second would be Gandalf, but I thought being an elf with living so long and having excellent dexterity and intelligence would be fun. Reading, being able to do magic and learning how to be a warrior would all be rolled into one. I rather like that!
Which authors have influenced you the most? Tolkien and Isaac Asimov are the two authors that I have such great respect for. Tolkien’s world building inspired me and allowed me to escape to Middle Earth at a time that my mom was going through a difficult divorce. Asimov amazed me because he could write in any genre. I read his books and realized that I did not have to be limited to just one thing. I could write whatever I wanted just like him.
What is your writing space like? I have an office with a laptop and a monitor set up with all these books around me, but… I don’t write in my office. Instead, I go downstairs in the back family room, sit cross-legged on the sofa with a pillow on my lap and my laptop on top of that and then I write. It’s comfortable but it’s not the typical writer’s space that many readers would think of to imagine where an author writes.
Tell us about your latest piece? Ahab’s Daughter: The Werewhale Saga is an action adventure book that has just enough spin-tingling horror thrown into it to keep you on the edge of your seat. I wanted to explore the premise: What happened after Herman Melville’s Moby Dick? But instead of telling a man’s story, my novels have women as the main protagonist. Not only do I get to explore what would Ahab’s daughter role be after he died at sea, but I pushed past normal social expectations to challenge what would happen if his daughter ran off to sea trying to find her younger brother who had delusions of finding the island of nightmares that their father used to tell them about as kids. I had a lot of fun writing this book and take it as a major sign of success when my 14-year old son came to me and told me that not only did he really enjoy it, but that some scenes were really creepy. He’s normally not that effusive and I had to laugh at his feedback.
What’s your next writing adventure? I have the first draft of book 4 of the Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries written. I just need to get back to reading it with fresh eyes and then rewriting it (see, the #3 Heinlein rule is really hard to keep!).
What was the last book you’ve read? I recently finished Charlie Jane Anders’ All the Birds in the Sky and I loved the book. It’s one the Nebula award and I just fell in love with it. There aren’t many times when I read a book and just get lost in how different and unique the book is and I hope that more people read it with an open mind.
Is this the age of the e-book? Are bricks and mortar bookshops in decline? I wouldn’t say that bookstores will fade away entirely. Amazon is now opening their own physical brick and mortar bookstores and I think that’s good for the industry. Not everyone wants to read ebooks. I read both physical and ebooks. I prefer ebooks for my daily commute to my full-time job because I don’t have to carry the physical book. I expect that ebooks will become more popular but speciality physical books will be around to give as gifts or even normal books so people can bring them on vacation. The form factor is hard to beat: Physical books are small and have a great tactile feel (and smell)–that’s something you can’t get from an ebook.
With the influx of indie authors do you think this is the future of storytelling? No. I commute to work on several different forms of public transportation and have been doing this for 22 years. Back in the ‘90s people carried the big Harry Potter hard backs with them on the train–then things shifted to Kindles, and now smartphones. I’m seeing an interesting change in reader behavior. More and more commuters are using their smartphones not only to play games but to watch Netflix. Honestly, that shocked me. We authors are now competing with screen time on the train. That’s not something I could have imagined back in the late ‘80s when I first started writing.
In order for us to adapt, I believe authors need to diversify our work. Yes, I write short stories, blog posts and novels, but I’ve also created podcasts and see a need for story arcs for augmented reality, TV shows, movies, virtual reality and things we haven’t even thought of yet. At my core, I’m a storyteller. It doesn’t matter to me if I’m telling a story with my voice, words or through some other means. I’m trying to be open with what the future will bring though due to lack of time my primary creative outlets are the written word with a few of my novels being available on Audible. I’m open to creating new worlds and storylines for augmented reality, video games and the like, but haven’t gone down that path yet. But I see the need there: People want stories–just not necessarily in the written form as I had once thought.
Are indie/self published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this? I believe indie authors are still viewed with scepticism. Part of that is due to our limited resources. It’s difficult to not only write but find great covers (for what we can afford) and to have a well-edited book. With indie publishing so easy, anyone can write whatever they want (without any editing) and just put the book up live. Readers are now needing to go through a slush pile and they don’t have time to do that. I’ve worked hard over the last six years to provide the highest quality book that I can.
Is there a message in your books? Yes, everything I write aligns to my personal mission: I believe that, no matter how difficult our childhood, we can use imaginative stories to heal ourselves and lead lives filled with love and hope.
How important is writing to you? It’s part of who I am. I write because I love it. Sometimes it’s like the beauty of touching freshly fallen snow as a kid and building an amazing snowman. Other times it’s not so easy. But through it all, I love telling stories about the human condition and hope.
*Name: Hello, my name is James Watkins
*Tell us a bit about yourself: I live in sunny San Diego California, which has been my home since 2011. I took a long time to find my home in voice work, but this year has seen the completion of my home studio, and I’m never looking back! I love reading, singing and writing songs, hiking, and playing in the ocean.
How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? I am a lifelong lover of reading. I really enjoy being able to explore through words and ideas. Because I am a bit of an amateur musician, I ended up with some simple recording equipment at home. When it first occurred to me to combine reading and recording it seemed natural and perfect. I am so glad to be living in this time where I am able to bring these things together in such a simple way. I have had a learning curve, too, but it’s a good thing that I also love to learn new things!
Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I recently narrated a series of four short books for kids, called “Degu Days”, written by Victoria Zigler. They are short but wonderful tales written in the voice of pet degus. They are small South American rodents who are amazing jumpers, and extremely charming little creatures. Victoria Zigler is a talented writer whom I think is well worth reading. Her stories beautifully capture the simple perspective of the young, but there are serious matters she deals with powerfully in the space of a very short story, too. Degus are cute fuzzy little creatures, but a lot of kids learn some of their earliest lessons in caring for a pet from small animals like these, and are even introduced to their first experience of what death is through living with these lovely, innocent animals. A lot of people say that reading stories really helps develop children’s capacity for empathy, and seeing things from another perspective, and Victoria has a nice touch with this stuff. Her books are true literature, aimed at meeting children where they are, and gently, kindly, lovingly helping them to grow and understand.
Do you have a preferred genre? Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? Being able to do lots of different stuff is a big part of what keeps things interesting! I like to do kids stuff, science fiction and fantasy, history, business, self-help, Christianity, medicine and life sciences, earth sciences, criticism, meditation. These are just some examples of things I’ve worked on recently. What’s really important to me is good writing. Good writers are a treasure, and I am excited to be able to help take something great and bring it to a wider audience.
What are you working on at present/Just finished? I’m pretty excited to be putting together a podcast of spooky stories right now, called the bonefire. The first episodes are going to be ready to go in the next few weeks. It’s exciting to have my very own project.
*Tell us about your process for narrating? (Be as elaborate as you like.) First, I’ve got to read and understand. I take notes, use a highlighter, draw little pictures and maps, so that I have a really strong sense of the voices, the arc of the story or the structure of what is being written about, and what the tone of the writing is.
Then it’s time to read and record. I like to read in the later part of the day. For some reason my voice gets more and more limber as the day goes on. I like to be active when I read, and probably look very silly waving my arms around. Taking lots of little breaks is important, too. Focusing and refocusing, so that I’m always fresh. Between what the writer has done and what I can do, there’s a lot of life you can give to a piece of writing. It’s important to pay close attention to that aspect, and give it what it really deserves.
The last step is editing, taking out any mistakes or things that don’t sound right. Then I process the signal. There’s not much processing an audiobook reader has to do compared to what some other kinds of voice artists have to do. This work is technical and procedural, but the truth is that it’s more about finesse than anything. It’s all about trying to get the best sound you can.
What aspects do you find most enjoyable? So many things! I have the attitude of a craftsman. The pursuit of perfection is what really gets me excited more than anything. Making something well is time well-spent, and being engaged with great material inspires me. Being able to read and really explore other people’s ideas and stories is pretty wonderful, too.
Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this?Of course I consider royalty share! Like anybody else, I’ve got to pay my bills and make money. But if a project comes along that I really want to do, and I believe in it, then for me, it’s worth it. I’m doing a job, and work is not all about fun and games. But I’m blessed to be able to do a job that gives me the opportunity to do a wide variety of things that I can get excited about, and to make choices about what kinds of projects I take on.
Do you listen to audiobooks? I started listening to audiobooks at the same time I realized how much is becoming available, how many great books there are being produced in audio format, which was also the same time I decided I wanted to do it myself.
*With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? It certainly is an exciting storytelling form today. And I think it will be even more interesting tomorrow. There is a lot of room for growth and development in audiobooks, and we are just starting to scratch the surface now. Human beings will always find new and exciting ways to tell stories. It’s what we do.
Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? It’s easy to understand why on a practical level people like them so much. We like to have something that engages our minds when our hands are busy. We have the opportunity to learn, to be engaged, and entertained while we are driving, or doing chores, or working, or we want something to keep the kids’ attention. But it’s also great to realize that as this art form emerges, we are hearing better and better storytellers all the time. The audience that writers can reach is a lot bigger, and the narrators who produce these books are honing their craft. It’s an art form that has a lot of room for creative people to really show what they can do, and people love to be engaged by something that fits into their lifestyle.
Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? I sure can! It was The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs. I knew my love affair with audio books was going to be a long one, and I thought it was only right to start out with a classic that I had been meaning to read for a long time. I have lived in a number of different cities, and had a lot of things to compare as I listened to Jane Jacobs eye-opening insights into urban planning. Donna Rawlins was such a fantastic narrator for this book. From the beginning, I was listening to it thinking, “I want to do this”, so I listened very carefully to her consistency, her tone, the cleanliness of her enunciation and production. I chose my first audiobook carefully.
Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) Well, I’m not making a living from it (yet?) but I have had really nice interactions with everybody I’ve dealt with from authors to the folks at ACX. They have created an effective and well-made interface that puts authors together with narrators. There is a range of quality that is available, but it puts tools in the hands of people, allowing them to create something for their audience. It’s a lot of work to produce an audiobook, but it’s hard to imagine that there’s anything ACX/Audible could do to make it any easier!
Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Nope. I’ve found myself overwhelmed, certainly. But so far it’s been all positive.
Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I have a tuxedo cat named Clarence who workshops my voices with me. Every new voice I try gets run by him first of all. He doesn’t give much feedback, but he’s a great listener.
Where can we learn more about you?
Social Media links:
Coming soon! Homemade, chilling and scary audio stories! Keep your eye on thebonefire.com for the first ones to appear in the near future!
If you are interested in having your project narrated and produced by James Watkins, you can find my profile on acx.com or email email@example.com
#Meetacharacter #fantasy #Heroesinhell
Name of characters: Daemon Grim & The Angel Grislington
(Short intro about each of the characters.)
Daemon Grim: Satan’s Reaper of souls and Pack Leader of the Hell Hounds (His Infernal Majesty’s Ancient Disorder of bounty hunters) and the Inquisitors (Royal interrogators).
The Angel Grislington.
Captive cherub of the Most High, taken prisoner during the final battle at the Time of Sundering. (Current unlawfully at large within the realms of latterday hell).
Q1 Daemon, why are you on this adventure?
I’ve got to track down the angelic retard sat opposite me. He seems to think he can abscond from unlawful custody with impunity and spread his holier than thou platitudes without repercussions. Think again sucker!
Q2 Grislington, who is your nemesis? Why is this?
That misguided fool on the opposite side of the table. If he’d just let me be, I’d while away my time among the masses without drawing attention to myself. This is hell, after all, and there must be plenty of things to keep an inquisitive chap occupied while he decides what to do in the long-term?
Q3 Daemon, at your final showdown what are your plans (promise we won’t tell)?
I don’t care if you do tell? In fact, I want you to shout it from the rooftops, because when I do catch up with this…this shiney whitey, sitting on a cloud all day yanking his own chain tosspot, I’ll rub his face so far into the dirt, he’ll be spitting out dog turds for what’s left of his incredibly short lifespan.
Q4 As an angel of God, it’ll be interesting to see how you’d define a hero?
My dear, that’s an easy one to answer. A hero is anyone who has to listen to Grim’s infernal rhetoric for more than a few minutes at a time. Honestly, could you think of anything worse? “I’m gonna cut you up – kill you – give you one hell of a Chinese burn for daring to do the slightest thing that doesn’t fit with Lucifer’s petty prince of darkness politicking.” Blah, blah, blah…For goodness sake, change the record. Can’t you think of anything original to say?
Q5 Daemon, you work for the Prince of Darkness. So how would you define a villain?
Anyone who dares question the tenets by which I lead my unlife. As the pack leader of the Hell Hounds, we are bound by ancient decree to always be guided by the Laws of Lucifer, and to protect and defend his most despicable doctrines. We will pursue all enemies of the state – without mercy – throughout the length and breadth of the Sheolspace continuum until they are brought to heel and subjected to injustice’s purifying scales.
Q6 Grislington, why do you think Daemon is on the path he or she is?
Because the poor boy hasn’t really got a choice. He has serious daddy issues that require the pandering of a constant urge to seek Lucifer’s approval on absolutely everything; from what he thinks to how he acts; who he sees and where he lives; he can’t even take a dump without fretting it might not fit into his regimented, regulated little world. Hand on heart, his path is leading him right down the toilet, but he’s too blinded by a false sense of loyalty to see.
Q7 Daemon, what are your feelings about God’s holy angel?
I don’t have feelings. I don’t experience love or hatred; joy or remorse; hope or despair. I’m merely possessed by the overwhelming, overriding urge to detach his head from his scrawny body and present it on a platter for my Dark Father to use as a toasting cup…a very small toasting cup. Perhaps something for pre-dinner aperitifs?
Q8 Grislington, where will you be 10 years from now?
I haven’t really decided yet. I might stay and savor the dark delights the damned have to offer or I might reach out and try for home again. It all depends if I can collect my wits – and my wings – from wherever it is they’ve been scattered.
Q9 Daemon, why should readers believe YOU are right?
Because as everyone in the underworld knows, I never lie. And I promise you, I’m gonna castrate this dick from the neck down the first chance I get.
Q10 This final question is to you both. Do you have anything you’d like to say to each other that you may not get the chance to say when you meet?
Daemon Grim: Not really, I’ll let my scythe do the talking.
The Angel Grislington: Good luck with that…Remember, I’m not just any old angel. I’m a cherub of the holy court, and unhinged or not, I just might surprise you.
OK let’s start with the good.
The author is obviously interested and passionate about her subject; it’s quite a specialised topic and research has been done. It is not a book which would appeal to everyone but it is a worthy read for people who like make-up and women’s history. Each chapter covers an era and the changing attitudes and tastes. I found the social aspects the most interesting – attitudes changed from women being branded as prostitutes if they wore cosmetics to it being considered odd if they didn’t in the space of a few decades. The history of the foundation (get the pun?) of some of the fashion houses and brands. particularly the older ones created by and for women was also pretty good.
The author covers everything – a brief mention of ancient cosmetics, to Victorian values, to rouge, compacts, eye make up, hair, punks, yuppies and hippies. It’s interesting to see how looks change, even within our own lifetimes, but also how some of the ‘fringe’ looks and lifestyles cling on (goth, punk, hippy). The chapter on wartime cosmetics was particularly good – how did women improvise, and harken back to older times with home-made and more natural products.
There is also a good discussion about the downsides of some of the cosmetics – lead in face whitener, hair products that eventually made you bald, and the increasing regulation on cosmetics as it became a really big industry.
Now the bad. This would work much better as a print book. The Kindle version has lots of formatting errors, typos and the pictures are small and hard to see. The errors eventually got really quite annoying (maybe it’s the writer in me). I don’t usually mark down books for this but there were so many!
I’d recommend this – but only the print version.
Today we welcome author Ron Vitalie – who brings with him some awesome tips for indies.
By Ron Vitale
Catchy title, right?Unfortunately, only a tiny number of indie authors have cracked the $100,000+ club on Amazon. In his May 2016 report, Data Guy reported that “1,340 authors are earning $100,000/year or more from Amazon sales. But half of them are indies and Amazon-imprint authors.”
With millions of ebooks competing for readers’ attention, there is a lot of supply, and demand is hot or cold—depending on your genre. A literary memoir? Probably isn’t going to earn you $100,000. Putting out one military science fiction book every month over the next year, odds are better that you’ll earn money with this strategy (for the short term).
I’ve been an indie author since 2011 and continue to struggle to make a profit off of selling my books. With my full-time day job, I release a book once or twice a year. My strategy has been to slowly build up my backlist and increase my readership over time.
I only know a few people who have struck gold being an indie author and many of them have since left the industry. Fads come and go. But writing good books and learning effective marketing strategies will help you succeed for the life of your author career.
Long gone are the gold rush days of indie publishing. The market has matured and what worked then (free days on KDP select), does not work today. Instead of getting frustrated, you have three options:
Write and Keep Writing
The best advice that I can share is for an author to keep writing. This advice is often given, but I don’t know if authors take it to heart. Writing means that: Keep writing books. Devise series, different genres, experiment and allow your creativity to fly free. If the only reason why you’re writing is to make money, well, there are much easier ways to be successful.
Writing novels or short stories is great, but an author also needs to know how to write effective book descriptions, ad copy, email autoresponders and other marketing promotional materials. If you can’t do that, then hire a virtual assistant, learn how to do it or barter with another author.
In my experience, the authors who are doing the best (yes, this is a generalization) are those who are publishing books on a regular basis.
For me, this means that I don’t just write when I feel like it. No. I have a schedule and stick to it no matter what. If I’m sick or something comes up with the kids, I make the time up. To hold myself accountable, I do two things:
1. I tell my family and friends that I’m writing a book.
2. I track all the words I write in a Google sheet.
I used to write when the “muses came to me.” Then I wised up. I don’t go to work at my full-time job when I feel like it. I go because I want to be productive and earn a paycheck to provide for my family.
It took me a long time to understand this and to wrestle with not wanting to put my butt in the chair and do the work. But now I have 8 novels published and 2 more in the works.
Writing, like tennis or running, is all about mind over matter. It’s like a mental game.
If you believe you can’t do it, then you’ll fail. But if you work hard, get better, keep plugging away, chances are that you’ll still fail (since few authors earn back the money they put out to make the book), but that’s where marketing comes in.
First step is to write books and to keep on doing that.
Be a Unicorn
Now that you have a book ready to share with the world, what do you do?
Write the next book and then the third.
If I could pass anything that I’ve learned to new authors, it would be to think like a marketer.
When I published my first book, Lost (Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries), I fantasized that I would release it and I’d be raking in the money. Everyone would love my book. I worked hard, published the book and my dream fell flat. I think I tried to fly without wings and hit the concrete hard. Thankfully, I could still pick myself up, learn from my mistakes and keep writing.
The mistake I made is a classic one: I only had one product to sell. I used my five free days on KDP Select to give my book away and there was nothing else for readers to buy. I didn’t have an email list, I didn’t have autoresponders created, a funnel, an editorial calendar or email strategy that would help promote my brand.
I had none of that.
I only had a desire to write, but no idea how to get there. For the last five years, I’ve read, studied, experimented and watched more training sessions than I can remember. And that learning is never going to end. I need to keep evolving, learning and growing.
I like that because that fits nicely with my personality. I love learning.
To succeed, I recommend becoming a unicorn: An author who not only can write good books, but knows how to connect with people and apply that to marketing.
Email Equals Love
If you’re looking where to spend your energy, then the choice is simple: Build your email list. I use Mailchimp, love it (though it does get expensive) and I took the time to build out a 6 part autoresponder chain.
Either through Instafreebie or my website, I offer a reader a free book if they sign up on my email list. Once they signup, they receive (over 6 weeks) an email every week on topics related to what my brand is.
My mission (branding statement) is simple:
I believe that, no matter how difficult our childhood, we can use imaginative stories to heal ourselves and lead lives filled with love and hope.
The characters in my books reflect and live that theme. After users receive my emails, I then start sharing my bi-monthly newsletter. Some readers love it and write to me while some unsubscribe. But that’s a good thing because I want to make certain that my list contains people who are into what I stand for and what I write about.
It’s taking much longer than I had expected, but building the list organically is a slow burn.
To start out, ask yourself: What value can you give to readers that will make your emails stand out?
How does one actually do that with readers? It’s pretty simple if you stop and think about it.
I like to think of things this way: If I meet someone for the first time and they shake my hand and say: “Would you like to buy my book? It’s on sale for $.99.” Well, I’d slowly walk away from that person.
Just because someone gives you their email address doesn’t mean that they want to be spammed by you.
Not only is that type of marketing unsuccessful, but most readers tune that out. Especially in the area of social media, there’s the 90-10 rule:
90% of the time, share content that’s helpful and useful to people. The other 10%, you can promote your own work.
I highly recommend that you sign up to Seth Godin’s email list and read his books if you haven’t already. His marketing style is honest, helpful and is a great model for what works. Every single day I read the short email he sends out. Over time, I’ve come to look forward to his emails because I learn something and find them useful. It’s not just him trying to sell me a book or a class. Yes, he does do that (very infrequently), but he provides not only good content, but writing that causes me to question why I’m doing what I’m doing. He’s upbeat, personable and extremely relatable with his posts.
When I first started my email list, I sent out emails when I remembered. I was scattered, had no editorial plan and no idea what to write about. I’ve come a long way in the last year. I now send an email out every two weeks (I chose this because the majority of my readers picked this option in a survey I had sent to them) and I share updates on my creative process, but have found that the most popular emails are those that relate to my brand—personal stories about my upbringing that I share with readers.
I’ve had people from all over the world respond with their own stories and it allows me to see how interconnected we all are. I’m not alone and neither are those who also went through difficult childhoods. That commonality is a thread that binds us together and by sharing our stories, we own them and can heal rather than being poisoned and trapped by the difficulty we grew up with as kids. That’s a heavy topic to sometimes discuss and share, but it’s also what I believe is needed in today’s world. I was tired of feeling ashamed and decided to talk about my past in a way that was not only healing for myself, but for others. The benefit is that I not only get to connect with people from around the globe, but readers get a glimpse into what my writing style is like and what I write about. It’s honest and true.
I once believed that if I just wrote my heart out that my book would be “discovered” and I’d be selling copies easily. That didn’t happen. Yes, some authors have had success like that, but that’s not happened to me and to thousands like me. The reality is that authors need to juggle multiple hats and not only need to know how to write, but we need to also market our books.
Today we have Amazon (AMS), Facebook, Google, Bookbub and dozens upon dozens of other options out there. Some authors swear that this one technique on this certain platform works. Others say it doesn’t work.
Unfortunately, the only way to know what does (or doesn’t) work for you is to experiment. I’ve not had success with Facebook ads, but know that others have. The possibilities are tremendous because we can target people by demographic, location and interest. You could even send an email to your readers and then retarget them via Facebook, so that they’d see an ad for your book that way as well.
The big question is: How much are you willing to invest in marketing?
And when I say invest, I don’t refer just to money, but also to time. If you have unlimited funds, then you can hire a virtual assistant to run this all for you. And if you have that type of money, you probably aren’t in need of this article.
The biggest benefit is that authors can (and do) help each other. Email swaps, webinars, blog posts with actual sales numbers, there’s more information out there than there is time. I find that to be my biggest challenge. As I learned back in 2015, I can’t work full-time, raise two kids with my wife, be an author popping out books every few months and learn everything I need to know about marketing. I tried that and nearly imploded. I failed because I tried to take too much on. I need sleep, mental rest, time to have fun with my family and friends, and room to breathe. I can’t have every second of every day scheduled for work. That type of commitment nearly broke me and wasn’t healthy for me or my family.
It’s the dark side to being an indie author that many don’t talk about. We read and see all the success stories, but what about the failures? That’s where I come in. I share what I’ve been through because I think it’s important to give a true rundown of what I’ve experienced (and what many others are experiencing as well).
In my book, How to Become a Successful Author While Working Full-time: The Secret to Work-Life Balance, I go into detail about my personal experiences from the last six years of trying to figure out how to be an author in today’s vastly changed publishing landscape. I share it all—the highs and the lows.
Even if you have had success, maintaining that over years and decades will be hard. The challenge is being flexible and continuing to learn.
In 2017, without a sound marketing strategy, I think it’s extremely rare that a new indie author will find financial success. For me personally, I had some success in the early years, but as I’ve needed to grow my business, I’ve had to spend more on services to keep my business running.
Now I need to pay for website hosting, editing, covers, Mailchimp, advertising, and a bunch of other fees. I track how much I spend and how much I earn and there’s no shame in my sharing that I’m struggling. It’s the truth because I’m making choices to invest in my business and those expenses need to be spent or I cannot grow to where I want to be. I’m investing in my future because I see great potential in the long term.
No matter if you’re extremely successful as an indie author or just starting out, all of us will need to adapt and change. Maybe Amazon will change KNEP again or another service will rise up while others go extinct (I see your days numbered, Nook). We have virtual reality, augmented reality and who know what other “reality” is coming down the pike. Change will continue to happen and disrupters (like the Amazons of the world) will continue to affect the publishing industry.
The challenge for us as authors is to hold two incongruent ideas in our mind at the same time: We need to be as creative and inspiring as we can with our fiction but also need to understand marketing and its implementation in the real world.
Sometimes those two ideas will war with each other. I personally don’t believe that we only write to market. Someone will need to take a risk and try something different. Remember Harry Potter? The Twilight Series? Fifty Shades of Gray? Times and tastes change and I don’t always want to be following the herd. I need to write what moves me and inspired me to be an author from the start. The honesty that I write about in my books is what enables me to get up at 5:30 a.m. to write. Sometimes my main characters make mistakes, just like me. I like displaying the truth and complexities of my characters’ lives. But everything can’t just be about creation. I also need to take my author career and treat it like a business. I need to show up, write regularly, publish books and market them well. Having the tension between creativity and selling can be a challenge sometimes, but I choose to see it as a healthy struggle. I hope you do as well. Have questions? Feel free to contact me.
Ron Vitale is a fantasy, science fiction and nonfiction author. He’s written the Cinderella’s Secret Witch Diaries series, the Witch’s Coven series, book one in the Jovian Gate Chronicles, and the Werewhale Saga. His first nonfiction book, How to Be a Successful Author While Working Full-Time: The Secret to Work/Life Balance is also now available. When not writing, Ron loves spending time with his kids even when they beat him in the fun card game Kittens in a Blender.
A tasty vampire bundle, in time for Halloween.
Vampires of the World bundle – 8 novels box set… coming soon and already available for pre-order at Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble and Kobo!
Today we welcome two characters at once – Kerrien and Rithvik
Relationship: it’s complicated
World: Silvery Earth
Rithvik: In my castle! He found me and awoke me with the sweetest…
Kerrien: Shut up, Rithvik! I’m an adventurer and bounty hunter, and I had followed some bandits to an abandoned castle in the forest. I found him at the top of one of the towers, spellbound, asleep…
Rithvik: And he kissed me awake! *beams*
Kerrien: He’s darn handsome, I’ll give him that. And he has kissable lips, darn him!
Rithvik: He is strong and handsome and awesome and he kissed me awake, so we’ll be together forever!
Kerrien: We’re not. You consorted with demons, I will get rid of you.
Rithvik: No you’re not!
Kerrien: I hate how he sticks to me and tells everyone I kissed him awake.
Rithvik: I hate how he’s trying to get rid of me! We’re meant to be together!
Kerrien: Well, he can hold a sword. I guess we’re a good team.
Rithvik: I have a lot to learn, but I’m sure we’ll be the best and everybody will want to hire us!
Kerrien: I don’t know. I like to work alone. And I don’t like his past.
Rithvik: Of course our partnership will last! We’re meant to be together anyway!
Kerrien: We’re not!
Rithvik: See why it’s complicated?
Kerrien: Rithvik is a spoiled prince with a puppy disposition, but he has a nice ass and beautiful emerald-green eyes. And he’s handsome, nobody can deny it.
Rithvik: Kerrien is a grumpy mercenary with lots of hidden scars. He’s like a stray cat, if you get to his heart, he’s the sweetest. And don’t you love his raven hair and hazel eyes?
Kerrien: Great and mighty warrior. *snorts* I’m his caretaker, mentor, assistant and another dozen job descriptions!
Rithvik: Erm… he thinks I’m useless and spoiled and that I spellbound him. I didn’t, unfortunately, or it wouldn’t be so complicated.
Kerrien: We wander, looking for treasures, hunting outlaws, looking for Rithvik’s past…
Rithvik: And yours! I want to know everything about where you come from!
Kerrien: We both live in the north, where the Moren Empire used to be.
Rithvik: The Moren Empire was still there when the spell sent me to sleep!
Kerrien: That was centuries ago. Now we have small kingdoms, city-states and the lands of the barbarian tribes, where I come from.
Rithvik: I think someone mentioned this world is called Silvery Earth and this… continent? Yes, this continent is called Varia.
Kerrien: Where did you hear that, from your demon lover?
Rithvik *rolls eyes*
Kerrien: Still wandering and exploring the world.
Rithvik: Settled somewhere with Kerrien and living happily ever after!
Author’s Cut Edition
Thirty Years of Wonder
THE DRIVELLINGS OF TWATTERSLEY FROMAGE
Social Justice. Food. The Arts. Thoughts. Ideas. Opinions. Facts. Truth.
Illustrated Short Stories
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The Fantastic and Mundane Chronicles of an Aspiring Writer
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On reading. On writing. On life.
This site is about a new author's prespective about writing.
A place where books and imaginations spring into life
I dreamed i could fall asleep.
Welcome to My Life
Science Fiction and Fantasy Author
Remnants from the Realm of Dissociation
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Tales of whimsy, humor and courgettes